CURRENT SHOWS AIRING
Sunday May 4
Game of Thrones (HBO), Episode 5 "First of His Name"
Brief Description: Hands down, the three best Game of Thrones episodes have been "Baelor", "Blackwater", and "The Rains of Castamere". Those three episodes were the penultimate episodes of Seasons 1, 2, & 3 respectively. The second to last episode of every season of Game of Thrones is the explosion to what the season has built up towards. I have no doubt that the same will hold true for Season 4 of the show. But in order to build up to this big event, we need to have episodes like "First of His Name" to move chess pieces on the board. And like the middle of the past few seasons, "First of His Name" is pretty dull. The show has done a great job building up Dany, and this week it gave her an out to go fight for the Iron Throne in Westeros, but instead, she's going to go back and mull around in Essos. Last week we got a glimpse of the White Walkers threat, but they've been mulling around in the North for so long and get so little screen time, that they barely seem like a credible threat at this point in the series as well. For all the talks of the threat to the Lannister's power, that's all they have been: "talk". Now, I said the same thing at this time last year, and the season turned out quite alright, so I'm confident I'll enjoy the show by season's end. I'll power through these "pawn mover" episodes because I know it'll eventually lead to a check mate. Plus, no Tyrion and almost no Jamie this episode, so a dull episode feels even duller.
Mad Men (AMC), Episode 4 "The Monolith"
Brief Description: The title of this week's Mad Men is purposefully meant to evoke thoughts of Stanley Kubrick's classic "2001: A Space Odyssey" which every reviewer of course has to bring up in their review. The only reason I'm even bringing it up is because I think both Mad Men right now and the Kubrick film have this in common: they are genius works of art that are quite frankly boring to watch. I had the "luxury" of watching "2001" for the first time only a few years ago, so admittedly my perspective on the film is tainted. But even still, the entire movie is not enjoyable to watch, and the end just goes off the rails. Mad Men feels like it's going off the rails in its later years. Not so much for being as out there and as symbolic and dramatic as "2001" was, but I think its glory days are behind it. I have constantly critiqued this show for feeling like a high school English assignment and I think "The Monolith" is a great representation of why. There's so much symbolism and things to analyze, that it's easy to fill up an entire online review even though nothing happened on the show. Yet at the same time, watching is starting to feel like homework. I think a lot of why I liked "Field Trip" so much was because it reminded me of the days where Mad Men would actually *do* something while also having characters we love to hate. As much as I hate Betty Draper and the old, weasely Pete Campbell, I needed them to balance out the show. Since Season 5 of the show, nothing really has happened, which just makes the show dull with the appearance of bright lights.
Silicon Valley (HBO), Episode 5 "Signaling Risk"
Brief Description: It's no coincidence that the best episode of Silicon Valley's rookie season is the episode where you see the least amount of the show's main character Richard. Plus, what little you see of Richard, you at least see him being authoritative and taking charge. There's humor in T.J. Miller's Erlich and others bossing Richard around, but it's mostly annoying. Instead, what "Signaling Risk" does is create a low risk story line that not only allows its characters to just be funny, it also advances the plot. The A story line of this episode is Erlich paying a local graffiti artist (who initially wants to be paid in stock options) to create a logo for Pied Piper, while the B story line is of Peter Gregory demanding Richard and his company to present at the TechCrunch Disrupt. I imagine the season finale will be Pied Piper's presentation at the conference, and hopefully we'll get a better sense of just how rewarding it will be of Richard to start his own company. But until then, we'll get little funny moments like Gilfoyle and Dinesh arguing with each other, which is really what makes this show. Kumail Nanjiani's face at the end of the episode when he couldn't go outside to see the logo because he was in competition with Gulfoyle was laugh out loud amazing.
Lastly, on a more somber note, "Signaling Risk" will be the last episode in which we'll see Christopher Evan Welch's Peter Gregory because the actor died while in production. While Peter didn't have a lot to do in this episode, his awkward conversation with Gavin Belson was fantastic. I also imagine Welch's death will bring the show's only female star, Amanda Crew's Monica, more into prominence- which will be a refreshing change of pace.